Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

Rather than discuss the exercise or what I hope to gain from participating, I thought I’d write about my dog, Roscoe.

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He’s part Black Lab, part something or other.  We adopted him when he was four (according to his previous owners).  He’s 14 now.  This is an old photo; now you can see gray in his muzzle and he is having more and more difficulty handling the stairs.  JD actually picks him up to put him in our Suburban when we take him to the park.

A few weeks back we visited the park during Petapalooza, a fair-type event with booths of all kinds, a costume contest, petting zoo, camel rides and free treats just about everywhere.  Roscoe did really well – he just laid down whenever he got tired.  Even if it was in the walkway.  This past weekend though he scared us a bit.  His hindquarters have always been weaker than you’d expect, from the time we brought him home.  They’re growing worse as he ages and it hurts me to watch him.  He doesn’t cry like he hurts but I can see the uncertainty, the fear I guess when he’s faced with going down the porch steps to relieve himself.  Returning up the steps isn’t much better.  JD said he had improved a bit early this morning when he took him out one last time before coming to bed.  Not a miraculous turnaround, but not the same reluctance.

A lot of pet owners would tell me we should put him down, that he can’t have a good quality of life that way.  But they can’t see him.  Just last week he brought his unstuffed weasel toy over to the sales rep from BathFitters wanting him to play.  Roscoe loves going to the park.  He’ll walk a bit, sniff a bunch and then lay down in the cool grass and just watch the world go by.  He still eats all his food, though it takes him a bit longer; and he eagerly gobbles treats when we offer them.  Sleep isn’t difficult and he still relieves himself regularly.  His tail wags frequently and I think his quality of life, while not what it once was, isn’t too awful – for now.

However, his demeanor this past weekend brought his deteriorating condition to the forefront.  JD and I were both in tears over dinner last night, knowing we might be nearing the time when Roscoe should be put to rest.  He’s been a part of our lives for nearly all of our marriage.  He is deeply ingrained in our hearts and lives.  We’ve cuddled with him, rolled around on the floor with him, watched him play with our grandchildren, played tug of war with him.  His going will leave a huge hole in our lives.  HUGE.  But I will not hesitate to say goodbye to him when the vet says it’s time.  He deserves to live without pain, without uncertainty.  Roscoe is a loving, loyal companion.  It will be extremely difficult to lose him … and “extremely” doesn’t begin to describe how much it will hurt.  Devastating comes to mind.  I realize it isn’t a tragedy of earth-shaking proportions.  Just a tragedy for the Does.

I’m trying to look at it this way – it isn’t losing him.  It’s FREEING HIM.  That’s the only way I’ll get through this.

That, and a double scotch on the rocks.  Here’s to you, Roscoe.

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6 thoughts on “Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

  1. Cheers to Roscoe! What a beautiful tribute to him. The hardest decision to make…ever. Know this…Roscoe will understand. His soul will know when it is time, and so will yours. He will run free in Heaven and wait, ever faithful, as he does now in life, for his beloved family to arrive. Those who have passed before you, and knew Roscoe, will keep him by their sides. May your heart be filled with the love of this message when it is needed, and may you feel the warmth of God’s embrace, on the day that Roscoe is called home.

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  2. That’s your dog. You’re his entire world. A lot of people don’t share our perspective.

    We have owned Irish Wolfhounds for almost a decade—in fact, the 10th marks Patience’s 10th birthday. Last week we celebrated our 11th year of marriage, so there are many things about your post that feel intimately familiar.

    Patience has lived with some neuropathy in her lower spine for much of her life. She chews on her feet to counter the associated tingling and itching, and she sometimes chooses some peculiar sleeping postures—even for a wolfhound. Actually, that second part may be nothing. Ember routinely lies on her back with all four legs straight up in the air. Such balance!

    In the last eighteen months, Patience endured three bouts of pneumonia. We are in the military, and staying connected with a competent veterinarian has proven to be more difficult than we imagined. Medical doctors have nothing on veterinarians, in my opinion, so the prevailing thought is that something as basic as identifying the proper antibiotic for a strain of bacteria would be akin to troubleshooting with a Hayne’s repair manual. Here in small-town, BFE Missouri, that simply wasn’t the case. A trip to Springfield brought our puppy back to life.

    The strain on her body only worsened the neuropathy. We love on her and joke with her about walking around the yard like a drunkard, and we make comments like, “It’s hard being an old girl.” That’s the truth, though. It’s hard. We’ve added a Blue Dog Help ’em Up harness to provide some assistance on the days it is needed, and cleaning up after her, “Surprise! I have to poop,” moments have become a habit a few times a week. She just doesn’t always feel what is going on back there, and at times she lacks the swiftness to get to the door before disaster occurs. What does all of this mean? Is it time to say goodbye to my best friend?

    Dr. Jungerman—a veterinarian that Roux worked with some time ago—put it this way: “Think of three things that Patience does that really make up who she is. Habits, quirks, whatever they are … once she stops doing two of those things, it’s time.”

    I don’t think putting this subjective power in the hands of normal pet owners is an issue. I’m sure you can identify three things, and I’m sure that someone willing to surrender their pet because life has become a challenge would not be open to such advice.

    As for Patience, she’s still doing all three of hers, and we are more than happy to live with small inconveniences as long as she wants to stay with us.

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    • Jesse, I wish I could tell you how much your comment meant to me. I was sitting here at my desk with tears pouring down my face – it was just like you were describing what Roscoe has been through when you explained about your Patience. It helps to have someone understand so clearly what we’re experiencing. Thanks very much for the tip about the “three things”. I will be sharing that with my husband; as well as looking up the Blue Dog Help ’em Up.

      I feel so much better than I did before I posted this; thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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